For a man who’s retired, Philip Roth is still oddly present in the literary world. Ever since he announced his intention to quit writing, he’s made a stream of public appearances, including an awards ceremony at Yaddo one week after claiming he’d never appear on stage again. So what gives? In The Baffler, J.C. Hallman explains why writers can never really quit, in a piece that nicely complements our own take on literary retirement. FYI, Hallman has written for us.
Today's edition of Book Reviews Worth Reading: Kathryn Schulz's first official outing as the book critic for New York Magazine (on the late Anthony Shadid's House of Stone) and Anti-Matter author Ben Jeffery's take on Houellebecq's The Map and the Territory. (While you're at it, you might as well read Elaine Blair nailing Houellebecq at the NYRB (in the second-best possible way)...or our own Bill Morris' défense.
When did the air of scandal surrounding Philip Roth give way to a kind of reverence? At a certain point, Roth lost his reputation for controversy. In The New Republic, Adam Kirsch investigates the odd story of Roth’s career, including evidence from Claudia Roth Pierpoint’s new book about the author, Roth Unbound (which we reviewed).
When a professor of literature wrote Flannery O'Connor for a master key for interpreting her story, "A Good Man is Hard to Find," he probably did not expect her particularly unimpressed reply: "Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it." (Via the ever-excellent Letters of Note.)
In 1962, Samuel Beckett wrote “Play.” Originally intended to be a stage production, the piece has now been adapted as a short film starring Alan Rickman, Kristin Scott-Thomas and Juliet Stepherson. Come for the Beckett writing (full text can be found here), but stay for the disembodied heads-in-urns.